KiwiBuild or Kiwibust
Housing initiative struggling for traction with low ballot numbers, write Stacey Kirk and Laine Moger.
KiwiBuild’s plummeting popularity could spell out Kiwibust for the Government’s flagship policy.
There are only 338 prequalified KiwiBuild applicants, although the Government has signed off contracts for 3375 houses. It was forced to push out the KiwiBuild ballot deadline in Wanaka, after receiving just 20 entries for 10 homes.
Property developer Alex Cassels is opposed to KiwiBuild.
Cassels has been developing affordable rental homes in innercity Wellington, and says he has no desire to lobby the Government on the issues around KiwiBuild. He would prefer to get stuck in and just do what he can.
But he thinks the Government is talking a lot while what is needed is people to actually pick up a hammer and a piece of wood.
He sees this as partly why the initiative is getting no traction.
‘‘For a vibrant and diverse urban environment you want affordable priced accommodation in close proximities to cities. Young people want a place to live to start their life journey and we are sending them on that journey with a struggle,’’ Cassels says.
National Party housing spokeswoman Judith Collins agrees, saying it’s time to question KiwiBuild’s financial viability.
‘‘If Mr Twyford can’t sell the houses he has bought off the plans, the Government will be forced to pay this money. This will easily blow his $2 billion budget and cause the whole scheme to come crashing down,’’ Collins says, adding that the policy is now a ‘‘complete shambles’’.
‘‘Houses are too expensive and too small. The minister isn’t building enough houses, he isn’t selling enough houses, and those few that are sold aren’t going to the people that need them.’’ Twyford declined to comment. A spokesman for KiwiBuild said while 338 people had completed the ballot process, a further 6648 applicants had begun the pre-qualification process and a total of 45,764 people had registered for KiwiBuild updates.
‘‘KiwiBuild encourages people to register on our website so they can keep up to date with the homes being announced, but they don’t need to go through the process of pre-qualifying and entering a ballot until a home that they want to buy becomes available,’’ the spokesman said.
The number of ballot entries varied from place to place.
‘‘We are satisfied with the ballots so far, which have already resulted in the 33 families buying their KiwiBuild home. Another 53 KiwiBuild homes are currently being balloted – a mix of completed homes and ‘off the plans’ houses that were still being
Young people want a place to live to start their life journey – and we are sending them on that journey with a struggle. Property developer Alex Cassels
Economist Shamubeel Eaqub says low ballot figures did not point to any likelihood of loss on unsold homes. At worst, he says, the Government would on-sell a home at the price it paid for it, and to buyers who may not have originally qualified for KiwiBuild.
Official advice showed it was always going to run out of buyers: building different kinds of homes, to lift home ownership rates was the original goal, Eaqub says.
‘‘We don’t build these modest style of homes any more. We tend to build them grand and expensive so they can only be bought by those in the market already, or the rich.’’
First-home buyers still had to front a deposit and be able to sustain the mortgage repayments, so high incomes were still needed.
Judith Collins says Phil Twyford’s houses are too small.